David Crosby fears that if his upcoming concert tour is scrapped due to Coronovirus concerns, he'll lose his Santa Ynez, California ranch. The 80-year-old Crosby spoke frankly to GQ regarding the realities of the music business, which have led him to earn his money solely on the road, as opposed the standard way musicians have for the better part of 60 years.
"Croz" was asked how he was holding up and revealed, "Not too good. I'm sitting here waiting for them to cancel all my tours this summer and put me in deep financial trouble. . . Y'know, they don't pay us for records anymore, right? So touring is all we got. That's really the only thing that we can do to make any money. And to lose it is just awful. I may — honest to God — I may lose my home. I don't know what to do about it, except just try to roll with the punches and keep going. Truthfully, if I lose the tours, I probably will lose my home."
He added, "Right now, they're canceling Live Nation shows, who is, y'know, the big gorilla in the room. They're canceling up to April. They haven't talked about May yet, which is when I'm slated to go. But once I start in May, I'm working almost constantly until about six days before Christmas. And if I lose it all, I'm going to be in deep s***."
Crosby, who was part of creating some of the biggest albums in rock history, explained that the standard way of earning royalties on your work has now tipped in favor of everyone other than the artist who created the music: "Streaming doesn't pay. It's like you did your gig for a month and they gave you a nickel. That's how it is. The streaming doesn't pay us any money. So live is all we got. That's it; that's the only thing I get. And if I lose live, then I lose it all. I will lose my home, because I don't have any savings. And that's it. That's what I'm dealing with."
For Crosby, the entire streaming revolution has taken all the power and money away from the actual artists: "The guys who developed the technology went to the three main record companies and they said, "Hey, imagine a world where there's no physical object. Therefore, no shipping, therefore, no returns, no covers, no printing, no pictures." And the record company said, 'Holy s***, how do we get that?' And they said, 'It's really simple. You got to restructure your pay scale so that you're paying us a whole s***load of money instead of paying the artists. You got a chance to build a new structure here. They don't know anything about this. So you can build a structure where you pay them a whole s***load less and you pay us a whole lot." And I resent that because we make the music, we create the music, and they're making the money. It's really bad for me, and it's much worse for the talented young people who are trying to make a living as a musician."
Last time we caught up with David Crosby, he admitted that taking a full band on the road is hardly a cash grab for him these days: ["This band doesn't make any money. I'm not going to make a nickel off this tour. Not one. I'll break even — barely. But it's not really about that, is it? It's about getting to play that music, which is a joy."] SOUNDCUE (:11 OC: . . . is a joy)